Grow: Song of the Evertree is the latest release from Prideful Sloth and 505 Games, is it worth the hype or just a pile to add to the other sim games around? Let’s find out! The Finger Guns review:
A Worldly View
Alaria has faded, and left the evertree lifeless. Once a tree with many worlds of living, evolving creatures and nature is now nothing but barren branch and stunted growth. Residents from below the tree have left town since the tree has wilted and a joyous song is not as once strongly heard. Alaria has now been overrun with a dark and mysterious root called ‘The Withering’. The task of bringing back Alaria and the worlds, as well as townsfolk, is in your hands.
For anyone familiar with Prideful Sloth, you may remember their predecessor release Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, a relaxing open world adventure siming game, which you can check my review out here. (Spoiler alert; it is in my GOTY contenders). Well, Grow follows the same recipe of life sim, adventure and open world.
You are the last Everheart Alchemist and therefore on your shoulders lies the responsibility to grow the Evertree back to its fruitful delights and hope the town is restored to its once bustling community. Luckily “Book” and “Copperpot” are helpful delightful, companions to show you your way to those goals.
Fly Me to the Top
Initially, the opening is very similar to Yonder, and you can certainly see the inspiration has been taken from previous successes. I was extremely impressed that the opening had a joyful theme song with lyrics about the game.
With any sim game, I think customisation is so important, and it’s great to see that Grow included a non-binary option. There is so much choice with your character: how their face looks, what colour their hair is, body size and many hairstyles to choose from to name but a few. As the game progresses, the character will be rewarded with further customisable features. It’s easy to spend hours swapping and switching different hair dye, even down to shaped contact lenses.
Grow introduces you to Kazumi, a Pokemon pet like creature who flies you to the top of the tree and around town, acting as a fast travel for town, or your arrival to support the Evertree. It’s best to think of the game in two sections here, the Town with the open world around it, and the Evertree. The world is vast, and your character can not only walk, but frolic. Making travel speed easy and less time consuming than other open world sims I have experienced. With the ease of Kazumi flying you around and some other fast travel ways, the game won’t test your patience when needing to travel to different areas of the world.
For the majority of the start of the game, your companions Copperpot and Book will act as your tutorial to both the town, Evertree and tools you possess to help the world around you. The tasks they give you are very simple to follow and I always respect a clear tutorial in a game that is going to clearly have a lot of elements to think about. Eventually your companions act as guides or progress logs, and are very accessible and easy to follow. The breakdown of your progress in each world area, as well as a review from Book each day, make it easy to remember what you need to do and what your next task at hand is.
The first main task you are given is tending to the Evertree, and growing your first world seed, a small seed that you plant on the tree to try and evolve a new land for species to grow on. This first world is small in scale, but is filled with objectives and things to do such as watering plants, cleaning up debris, pulling weeds, planting seeds, caring and adopting animals and singing to enhance the growth of the Evertree.
Grow follows a day and night format, however your character will sleep in the night, so it is not possible to do tasks durig that time. One of the many highlights of Grow, is that there is no health bar, no energy bar, or no stamina bar. Equally, the day does not go too slowly or too quickly, and you can mostly choose to end your day between a decent period of time. I would argue Grow gives the perfect amount of work time, and you can divvy up the tasks as you see fit. Whether you work on tasks around the town, or choose to nurture your world seed, it is up to you.
Nurturing the world seed and doing those gardening type tasks is extremely cathartic and there is no pressure to do any one task quickly. I found myself enjoying this so much. The different sounds of each task, and having a finished project once your clean up is complete is very rewarding. With every day that passes and every day you put into your world seed, the bigger the world grows, so there is lots to nurture and you’ll be able to experience the ecosystem that forms with your hard work.
The world of Alaria is barren and the townsfolk have all disappeared. The town is consumed with the Withering having taken over, leaving little land to appreciate. Alongside tending to the Evertree, Book and Copperpot will hope your efforts with the tree will bring back townsfolk to reside but also hopes this dismays the Withering from crawling further into the depths of the town, or even pushes it back.
Here Ye, Here Ye Townsfolk!
Equipped with tools, townsfolk will not return if they have nowhere to stay. With every task you collect Myora, like a magical currency. You can spend this currency building structures and houses for people to live and work in. Residents will start to flock in and it is your job to give them something to stay for. Each resident has a detailed calling card, describing their likes, dislikes, some personality traits, and their dream job. You can help these folks fulfil their dream job by assigning them to work in structures.
It’s important to keep up to date with their day and it adds a welcome extra element to the sim lifestyle of Grow. Not only are you tending to the land, but the people of the land who come to situate there. Working out what to build, and having freedom to choose where and how this looks with customizable features is a delight.
There are no finicky controls to doing this, and the menu to build and customise is as easy as your bumper buttons on your selected controller. As you finish missions you will be gifted different styles and types of customisable features which allows you to paint and dress your buildings as you see fit.
Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble
I mentioned earlier you are playing as an Everheart Alchemist. This is very important to the game. Copperpot, a literal copper pot is your cauldron for concocting essences gathered from tasks you have completed, or from the Evertree worlds cleaning up. There are dozens of essences that you can collect that will be special to that world. For example, Warmth, Cute, Smelly.
As an alchemist, Copperpot will let you mix and match these essences to evolve a world seed to grow on the Evertree. Each world seed will have it’s own look and style depending on the essences you have chosen to mix together. Each world seed having it’s own colour palette, style and shape is a unique addition to any sim game I have personally ever played and this makes it all the more exciting to mix and match and find different formula’s to create new seeds and new worlds.
Gameplay runs smoothly, and the story isn’t too in your face. The story gently reminds you of why you are here, what you are doing and what your purpose is on the world, and how this has been shaped from the past. Controls are smooth and there have been no frame rate issues, or technical / audio glitches.
Within the game other than the elements I have mentioned, there is so much to do, it is a breath of fresh air that doesn’t feel too overwhelming as it tracks your progress so neatly within ‘Book’. You are rewarded frequently for hitting milestones, such as chopping x amount of tree’s or fishing 50 fish.
Visually, you know you are not sitting in a real life tree, but the game is created with such beauty, bright vibrant colour and fantasy mystical shape, realism isn’t needed or required here. This game is one to sit back, play some music and relax with, a game that invites you to take your time and enjoy it. No harm can come to your character other than the odd occasional accidental drowning, which will place you quickly before your misstep. Not only will you discover and create the world’s on the evertree, but the town is an open world feature that covers many different locations, all with different needs, and exploration points, things to collect and do, caves to discover and so much more. It is hugely difficult to put this game down.
Grow: Song of the Evertree is for anyone who loves a sandbox sim adventure game. There isn’t much from the genre that Grow doesn’t include. It’s visually pretty, technically sound, and engaging throughout. With many environments to manage, craft and build as well as places to explore and make your own. You will be happily lost within the many worlds grow invites you into.
Grow: Song of the Evertree is out now on PS4 (review platform), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Publisher: 505 Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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